Tag Archives: artist studio

The Spirit of Materials-Earth, Water, Air and Fire

metal etched and chased.2jpg

MATERIAL ~The Matter from which a things is or can be made.

The dictionary definition of material lists it as a noun or adjective, a name or a description. Used as an adjective, it describes something that is “important, essential and relevant.” 

Recently I have been a participant at several art events where the material shines through and guides the process of art making. This post will be about those materials -clay, paper, metal and wood, and show the process by which they are transformed into something new.

 

Sophia and I attended a cultural exchange workshop in Astoria, Oregon that featured six indigenous Maori clay artists from Aotearoa, New Zealand. The accompanying art exhibit, art lectures, and hands-on clay workshops were called Uku-Aotearoa-The Spirit of Materials.

baye riddell

Artwork by Maori clay artist Baye Riddel

I have not really worked with clay before, except for an ash tray I made in second grade. It was made with coiled rings of clay. It had a green glaze and marbles melted in the center. ( I gave it to my grandfather, who smoked.)

It was a good opportunity for beginners mind, also known Shoshin. This is a concept in Zen Buddhism that refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject. Also inspiring was the opportunity to see experienced  artists build clay sculptures using age old techniques. There was a grace in watching coils of clay transform into an abstract angel, the artist’s hands building and smoothing every bit of it inside and out. The workroom filled with the energy and camaraderie of students and professionals, each making something with their hands. Maybe it was process that informed the final shape, for some it was an idea wielded and realized through process. The heart beat of it all was the building of a paper kiln. Like paper wasps building a home, the group slathered paper and mud to make a giant hive that breathed fire!

paper kiln7Step one: shelves are assembled to hold ceramics

This is an ancient, changeable and customizable method of kiln construction. The paper kiln uses simple materials-tree branches, paper and mud to construct an oven around stacked shelves of ceramics. These low-tech, versatile kilns are used in India today.

paper kiln6Wood is stacked tipi-style around the shelves.

paper kiln2

Sheets of newspaper are dipped in mud, then wrapped around the frame

paper kilnA fire is lit outside the kiln

The heat is from the fire is drawn into the structure. Coals are shoveled inside and a close watch is kept, repairing the walls as needed and keeping the fire stoked. (It was lit around 4:00 in the afternoon). Flames shot out of the top before it collapsed into itself around 1:00 A.M.

paper kiln opened up

Aftermath-a pile of burned paper, mud and wood coals surround the fired ceramics

paperkiln fired potOne of the fired pieces-organic material including mosses and shells were attached to the piece with copper netting to produce the random color and markings.

After returning home, steeped and stimulated by what I experienced, I started texturing sheet copper for a wood and metal sculpture collaboration with Jeffo . It feels great to work big-much bigger than jewelry mode. I will share more on our project in a future post.metal etched and chased

metal etched and chased.2jpg

Last week, Jeffro and I showed at the studio/ showroom of HIIH Lights in Astoria, Oregon.  Lam Quang and Kestral Gates are a husband and wife team who make handmade paper light  sculpture at their wonderful farm.

hiih barn

hiiih jeff photo

papermaking hiih 3Lam demonstrates paper making…

papermaking hiih

Wet mulch drying on the screen

 hiih papermaking

a few hours later, it starts to look like paper.

hiih show me

I need some of their lights for my display!

jeff horse hiih

Jeffro with Arabian Horse Bust, constructed from driftwood with his partner Zela Dove

jeff and zela

 

And more raw materials: piles of small wood that will eventually become part of Jeffro’s art:

woodpile

woodpile3

 

“From around the age of six, I had the habit of sketching from life. I became an artist, and from fifty on began producing works that won some reputation, but nothing I did before the age of seventy was worthy of attention. At seventy-three, I began to grasp the structures of birds and beasts, insects and fish, and of the way plants grow. If I go on trying, I will surely understand them still better by the time I am eighty-six, so that by ninety I will have penetrated to their essential nature. At one hundred, I may well have a positively divine understanding of them, while at one hundred and thirty, forty, or more I will have reached the stage where every dot and every stroke I paint will be alive. May Heaven, that grants long life, give me the chance to prove that this is no lie.”

-Hokusai Katsuhika

 

This quote was hanging on the wall of the ceramics classroom at Clatsop Community College in Astoria. It certainly expands the art and age horizons!

Going to close post with a photo of a recently made pendant, featuring an ancient Greek coin.

artemis on the beach

Artemeis Solteira. on the beach- ancient bronze coin from Syracuse, Sicily 317 B.C

bud namaste Bud, my studio mate

Until next time-may you be inspired!

Five Minutes

ultra violet ring chryspprase earrings

Spring has definitely arrived on the NW coast, and with it, our annual Tokeland Studio Tour. This year it is Saturday April 19th from 10:00-5:00 PM. There will be three art studios open including my friend Jeffro, Knock on Wood. A variety of area artist showing in the lobby of the historic Tokeland Hotel, and the Shoalwater Bay Tribe will have a display of work from their apprentice carvers program.

The Daily Astorian recently published an interview with me about my work, inspriation, and processes-if you care to take a look, click on the link….

http://www.coastweekend.com/arts/five-minutes-with-judith-altruda/article_02985d70-bac5-11e3-b73c-001a4bcf887a.html

Will close this post with a sampling of recent pieces to be debuted at the tour this weekend.

HAPPY SPRING!!!

salt water blue diamond

amazonite shi earringsstarburst earrings shi cuff

mer maid rocks

flame two

 

RAIN

rain

Compared to the rest of the USA or other countries, our winter weather has been mild and easy. But there has been an unduly amount of rain, even for us..fortunately my favorite escape from endless grey is to lose myself in the studio. It’s better than a trip to Hawaii-even though I am sure Sadie Thompson might disagree with me on that!

There have been some bright spots to start the new year. Jeffro made an incredible display bench for my studio. He salvaged the maple top from the beach in front of my house. The support pieces are from a ship wreck on nearby Washaway Beach.

jeffro display bench    Judith 17http://www.jeffrouitto.com/

I can’t even express how much I love it-made by a good friend and truly one of a kind.

Another friend, photo journalist Erika Langley, stopped by the weekend this bench was delivered. It also happened to be Super bowl Sunday. In Washington state this was a HUGE deal. (BTW: The Seattle Seahawks won.) Erika and I took advantage of the completely empty beach-not even any footprints in the sand- to take some artist shots.

me  Judith 16

photos by Erika Langley

Without realizing it, she took a series of shots that formed a narrative of place- the source of artist inspiration, the artist at work and finished jewelry pieces.

Since I dislike having my picture taken, (unless there is wine and a fedora involved) I was trying to relax and forget about the camera. Erika made that easy. I have recently had another birthday and am now in my mid fifties. Okay I said it! Recently I have been giving thought to the aging process. There have not been a lot of widely publicized role models or mentors for women until recently for this time in life. I have decided to embrace it. Be nicer to myself. Enjoy  the little and the big things. Ditch the rules. Dream big.

On that note, I now must share a few pictures of my pet project. The restoration of my 1971 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.

I bought this car four years ago from a local fisherman. It was barely running and pretty much in shreds. My ex husband, Tom, got it into running order and did a lot of interior restoration. After saving up money and a  search to find the right body and paint man, the project started in January 2014. With any luck at all it should be drive- able by June.

ghis restortation 1743470_526872930759532_43213501_n

 1601587_526874277426064_1334216138_n    005

This is the color it is going to be-it’s called Seaside. The job is being done by Three Crows Garage in nearby Westport, WA.

Back to the studio…

Here are some action shots from our Superbowl Sunday Shoot:

Judith 21   Judith 31

And a piece of finished work. These are wedding rings for  Rachel and Nick of Portland Oregon. They will be getting married on the summer solstice 2014. Their rings feature Victorian era sea glass from the coast of England set in 22KT gold with reticulated silver bands.

Judith 48 photo by Erika Langley

And now for some shots of recent pieces:

blue lagoon ring 029 031 large008 photos by Judith

All of these feature English sea glass. Did I mention that I have recently renewed my passport? I am hoping to take a trip to the NE coast of England in later summer to visit the beaches where this sea glass is found. One of the people I buy it from has very kindly invited me to visit her and her family. (and also the working man’s club!) I am a firm believer in planting seeds for whatever you want to manifest. So taking the action to get the passport renewed was step one.

Judith 43

 photo by Erika Langley   http://www.erikalangley.com/

Hope this scattered sharing of some of the past month’s highlights has been of interest and not too rambling…Until next time, I remind you that even though it is still winter for another six weeks or so, it’s time to plant the seeds for whatever you want to manifest your life.

In the immortal ad copy of Fredericks of Hollywood (and the Rocky Horror Picture Show):

Don’t dream it-be it.”